Indigenous space, citizenry, and the cultural politics of transboundary water governance
Emma S. Norman
Global Water Forum Discussion Paper 1248, November 2012

This paper explores the cultural politics of water governance through the analysis of a new governing body created by indigenous leaders in the Pacific Northwest of North America – the Coast Salish Aboriginal Council, an example involving transboundary environmental governance for, and by, 70 tribes spanning the US-Canadian border. The paper outlines some of the outcomes of the creation of the Council, including pairing with federal agencies to collect water quality data, and presenting a unified voice on issues such as management of anadromous salmon. The author argues that inclusion of cultural politics in the understanding of environmental resources will provide a more nuanced approach to the study of transboundary environmental governance. Such considerations have important implications for the study of natural resource management and indigenous communities, whose traditional homelands are often bifurcated by contemporary border constructions. The paper finds that the aggregation of historically connected tribes and bands for the shared benefit of environmental protection and cultural reunification is a first step in reclaiming space and reconstructing traditional governance mechanisms. Download the paper [pdf] …